College of Human Sciences

'Writing does not equal research'

Prof Christo Lombaard

Former Unisa College of Human Sciences academic, Prof Christo Lombaard, asserts that all research is relevant. "No academic chooses a topic that has no meaning," he says. Lombaard is a C1-rated National Research Foundation (NRF) researcher, specialising in Biblical Spirituality.

He says: "Biblical Spirituality is about analysing, historically, the experience of faith that found expression in the biblical texts and related to our contemporary world. Furthermore," he says, "it is about how impulses from the Bible texts influence the lives of individuals, groups and societies, in both explicit and implicit ways."

Lombaard argues that research is always up to date. He explains: "If it does not take cognisance of the newest publications, trends, insights and debates, nor make a new contribution, it is per definition not research, but simply writing."

Lombaard’s most recent work focuses on the relationship between important political concepts and underlying or parallel religious concepts, as well as the relationship between youth education in church, spirituality and the Bible.

Speaking about the rating process, Lombaard says he firmly believes that it can be improved. "It cannot be that the main reason to submit to the process is that institutions attach so much weight to it," he says. "My view is that institutions need to appropriately understand the rating numbers awarded to individual researchers. Critical voices on this rating process need to be heard. Completing the NRF rating forms should not be a time-consuming process as more time needs to be spent on conducting actual research."

According to Lombaard, much research is experimental. "An avenue may be explored for its potential worth," he says. "If the research then shows that the avenue is not worthwhile pursuing, that is a very important academic contribution. It may seem irrelevant to many people, yet may, in fact, result in an improved understanding of the world, and therefore constitutes research worthy to explore as part of academic duty."

As he concludes, Lombaard remarks: "Trust academics to be relevant, in more fundamental ways than often realised. We are fiercely critical upon each other, precisely because we do so from an informed perspective about the matter studied."

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/05/12